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Thursday, March 31, 2022

May 26 verdict for ex-Sabah minister charged with forgery


Peter Anthony was charged with falsifying a letter so that his company could get a system maintenance contract. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The sessions court here will rule on May 26 whether to acquit or convict former Sabah infrastructure development minister Peter Anthony, who is charged with falsifying a letter from the office of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) deputy vice-chancellor for a system maintenance contract.

Judge Azura Alwi said she needed time to deliberate after hearing oral submissions from defence lawyer S Devanandan and deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin.

“I will also be providing my grounds of judgment when delivering the decision,” she said.

Earlier, Devanandan, assisted by D Senthilanathan, submitted that Peter was entitled to an acquittal as the defence had created doubt in the prosecution’s case.

“There are material gaps in the prosecution’s case and the burden of proving the case is always with them,” he said.

Devanandan said the charge against Peter was an exercise in futility as there was doubt whether the accused committed forgery.

He said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) conducted a slipshod investigation as they did not ask relevant questions.

The defence is contending that the forgery charge could stick only if Peter had signed on the document in question.

However, the prosecution contends that Peter, who was the managing director of Asli Jati Engineering, had obtained a supporting letter to be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya to secure the project.

However, the accused is said to have added a title to the letter before it was handed over to Azlin Alias, then principal private secretary to prime minister Najib Razak on June 13, 2014.

“The real hero is UMS board of directors chairman Zaki Azmi, who managed to stop the project from being awarded to Asli Jati,” Wan Shaharuddin said.

Wan Shaharuddin, who was assisted by Haresh Prakash Somiah and Francine Cheryl Rajendram, said Peter had committed a deception because he wanted the project for his company though it was to be carried out by way of open tender.

He said the defence’s case was based on mere speculation and imaginary doubt and an afterthought.

Wan Shahruddin said the court must weigh all evidence by the prosecution and not disregard them when testing against the defence version.

Peter was charged with falsifying a letter by inserting a false statement with the intention to cheat. The offence was allegedly committed at Azlin’s office in Putrajaya between June 13 and Aug 21, 2014.

The charge was framed under Section 468 of the Penal Code for forging a document for the purpose of cheating, which provides for a jail term of up to seven years and a fine upon conviction.

He also faced an alternative charge of using a false document as genuine, which he had reason to believe was false, at the same place and time.

The charge was made under Section 471 of the Penal Code and is punishable under Section 465 of the same law for forgery, and can result in imprisonment for up to two years or a fine or both, if found guilty. - FMT

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